Guest Editorial: The importance of music in shaping our minds

A late popular deejay used to say that “music is the soundtrack of our lives.” On the surface that might not sound like it is of profound import, but looked at more closely, it really is! During the course of dealing with a national upsurge of the dreaded COVID-19, music is one of the things keeping a lot of people sane.

In essence, music is much more than a trivial pursuit, which is why musical artists are so important and are so lauded in society. The most prominent instrumentalists, vocalists, rappers, et al are the keepers of the culture so to speak.

If you think back on your life, a lot of pivotal activities and events have been encoded with the music of those times. In fact, listening to certain songs or compositions can bring a person to tears based on the memories that they conjure up. The power of music is the reason why we venerate so many prominent artists; they have an important influence on our psyches.

Examples of great artists/musical healers include, but are definitely not limited to, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Gloria Gaynor, Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Michael Jackson, Jay Z, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Alicia Keys, India.Arie, Ike and Tina Turner, Eartha Kitt, Billy Eckstine, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Queen Latifah, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Kirk Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Charlie “Bird” Parker, and many, many others representing a wide array of genres.

Listening to the right music can bring a person out of a deep funk. By the same token, it can also pull people down into the dumps.

This brings to mind the following discussion.

While music is definitely influential and can impact people in a positive way, it can also wreak havoc. This is what happened during the advent of gangsta’ rap.

Initially, hip-hop was basically harmless and whimsical. It later morphed into a more sinister version of music, and those in the know have been able to draw parallels between the rising prominence of gangsta’ rap with its themes of violence, bloodshed, misogyny, materialism, self-hatred, and more, to the rise of fratricidal murder, domestic violence and other community ills plaguing Black people.

Just think about it, music is connected with every aspect of our lives; movies, weddings, funerals, church services, meditation, memories, actually just about EVERYTHING!! Music is anything but frivolous. This is why it is so important that we pay close attention to our musical diet, because it portends the nature of the dominant memes in our communities. Music, in a very real sense, is the soundtrack of our lives.

Because music is so important, we need to take control of what kind of music we embrace as a community. Regarding negative rap music, the late, great Dr. Frances Cress Welsing stated, “We’re the only people on this entire planet who have been taught to sing and praise our demeanment. ‘I’m a bitch. I’m a hoe. I’m a gangster. I’m a thug. I’m a dog.’ If you can train people to demean and degrade themselves, you can oppress them forever. You can even program them to kill themselves, and they won’t even understand what happened.”

Dr. Welsing’s words ring very true during this age of degenerate Black rap music. Of course, there is beautiful music still available, but there is a bias on the part of mainstream media to broadcast music that encourages Black people to self-destruct. This is apparent if we pay attention to what many of our youth listen to and then watch their behavior.

Music is important; this is why we must meet negativity with positivity. We must encourage our youth to support positive music that uplifts, as opposed to low-down “art.”

One of the most prominent new artists today is rapper Megan Thee Stallion. She has collaborated with rapper Cardi B to produce a huge best-selling album titled “W.A.P.,” which is an acronym for “Wet A$$ Pu**y.” Our youth are musically embracing this music.

We can’t, in all fairness, watch them listen to this kind of music and then expect them to become well-behaved, high-minded folks. We must be realistic and begin to take control of the airwaves that are arguably ruining our youth! We must do something about this now!!!

(Reprinted from the Chicago Crusader)

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